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Museum Program

(Re)shaping the (Re)presentation of Jewish Culture:

The Future of Jewish Museums in the 21st century.

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Amsterdam, March 05 – 09, 2014 (in coordination with the AEJM CEP Program March 2-5)

Lectures, analysis, interactive workshops and small group study will encourage participants to develop:

- An understanding of how Judaism and Jewish learning influence contemporary and critical questions shaping the present realities facing Jewish museums.

- An awareness of the significant social role that Jewish museums can play in addressing larger themes such as immigration, integration and segregation through the Jewish experience.

- New ideas for relevant exhibition topics and shared programs.


The program includes workshops led by senior museums professionals, academic lectures by visiting experts and participant presentations. As a general study frame, we will be looking at concepts of ritual, space and time.

Lecture highlights include:

- A brief history of the development of Jewish museums worldwide – from the 19th century until today: similarities and differences.

- Target demography and Jewish museum audiences: who will visiting Jewish museums in the coming years?

- Jewish Museums as Jewish space?

- Roundtable: The Future of Jewish Museums in Europe


Felicitas Heimann-Jelinek, Former Chief Curator, Jewish Museum of Vienna

Laurence Sigal, former Director and Chief Curator, Paris, Musée d’art et d’histoire du Judaïsme

Sally Berkovic, Chief Executive, Rothschild Foundation (Hanadiv) Europe

Guest speakers include:

Emily Bilski: Museum consultant and independent curator, specializing in nineteenth- and twentieth-century art and cultural history

Simon Bronner, Distinguished Professor of American Studies and Folklore, Penn State University, and Editor of the Jewish Cultural Studies series

Cilly Kugelmann, Program Director and Vice Director, Jewish Museum Berlin

Michael Korey, Senior Curator, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, Mathematisch-Physikalischer Salon

Barbara Spectre, Founding Director, Paideia, Stockholm

Edward van Voolen, Curator Emeritus, Joods Historisch Museum, Amsterdam

Background context for the seminar:

Almost 30 European countries host one or several Jewish museums. A number of them had predecessor organisations in pre-war times. Most of these museums were established or renovated in the 1980s and 1990s in response to the destruction and/or dispersion of Jewish material and immaterial culture in Europe during the era of National-socialism. After the fall of communism, new Jewish museums were also founded in Eastern Europe.

Most European Jewish museums based on concepts developed in the 1980s recognize the need to reshape their permanent exhibitions and adapt their programmes to the new realities of the 21st century. Many have already transformed their core exhibitions, while others are working on projects designed to make their museums more relevant for a broader public

The need for change is being determined by two main factors:

- A change in approaches to history as national histories are being re-examined.

- The range of museum visitors has changed dramatically.

To attract visitors, and to adapt to this changing environment, museums need to build the capacity to speak to a broad audience, drawing on universal themes.

We will be looking at the extent of ‘Jewish thinking’ in the shaping and development of core exhibits and programming, as well as broadening our understanding of key concepts such as the Enlightenment and modernity, exclusion versus integration, memory, ritual and community.


The programme will take place March 5-9, directly following the Curatorial Education Programme of the Association of European Jewish Museums  in Amsterdam. On 5 March participants of both seminars will work together in a common workshop.

Friday night includes a Shabbat service and meal at the Esnoga. Shabbat /Saturday includes Talmud study, contemporary reflections on Shabbat and discussion.

The fee for the seminar, including accommodation and food, is euro 250. This fee does not reflect the true cost of the programme, which is funded by the Rothschild Foundation (Hanadiv) Europe. A limited number of subsidies are available and a request should be made in the application form.

Note: If you have applied to the program previously, there is no need to apply again.

For any questions about the program, please don’t hesitate to contact us at erik.gribbe[at]paideia-eu.org

Program Flyer

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